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Senior Executive Service Senior Executive Service FAQs

Basic SES Appraisal System

  • The Governmentwide performance requirements were written broadly to incorporate all regulatory and certification criteria and be applicable across all agencies.  Agencies have the flexibility to include additional performance requirements under any performance element to increase the usefulness and job specificity needed for their executives.
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  • The design of the basic system description is consistent with how most agencies currently construct performance plans, e.g. results-focused, leadership and accountability.  For some agencies, the basic system description may represent a transition to new terms and methods.  Agency executive resources staff will develop an implementation plan that will outline an approach to help SES members transition and to construct their performance plans as ECQ-based performance requirements.
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  • A number of agencies are currently implementing the basic system description.  These agencies will provide feedback and lessons-learned from their experience that will inform any appropriate refinements as other agencies begin to implement.
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  • The basic system description uses a five-level rating system:  Level 5 – Outstanding, Level 4 – Exceeds Fully Successful, Level 3 – Fully Successful, Level 2 – Minimally Satisfactory and Level 1 – Unsatisfactory.  Agencies may use agency-specific labels, which they must include in their additions to the basic system description.
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  • This system was designed to appraise SES members.  Agencies may adopt or adapt the system for use with other senior employees as appropriate (e.g. senior level employees who serve as the agency’s executives when they do not have SES members).
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  • The basic system description does not specify requirements for how pay adjustments or performance awards are given.  The basic appraisal system description provides the tools and metrics to help rating officials and Performance Review Boards (PRB) make meaningful distinctions in relative performance.  The ratings from application of the basic system description will provide performance information to rating officials and PRB members so they will be able to appropriately apply the agency’s pay policy and recognize top performers.
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  • Each performance element is appraised and assigned points according to the performance level attained, the points are multiplied by the applicable weight for the associated performance element to determine the element score.  These performance element scores are added together to determine the summary score, which yields the overall summary rating.  Consider the following example:     Critical Element Element Rating Weight Performance Element Score Summary Level Ranges 1. Leading Change 4 10 4 x 10 = 40 475-500 = Level 5 400-474 = Level 4 300-399 = Level 3 200-299 = Level 2 Any CE rated Level 1 = Level 1 2. Leading People 5 10 5 x 10 = 50 3. Business Acumen 3 10 3 x 10 = 30 4. Building Coalitions 4 10 4 x 10 = 40 5. Results Driven 4 60 4 x 60 = 240  Total   100% 400            
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  • The statistically validated ECQs have served as the foundation for selecting and developing Federal executives across Government for over 14 years.  Using the ECQs to appraise and recognize Federal executives will complete a holistic approach for not only selecting and developing Federal executives, but also for appraising, recognizing, and retaining a diverse cadre of high-performing Federal executives.  With the ECQs as a framework, the Federal Government can ensure a performance management system applicable to all executive position responsibilities and performance expectations, as well as maintaining a balanced emphasis on strategic leadership as well as results.
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  • As of January 2012, over 60 SES performance appraisal systems exist throughout the Federal Government.  A broad range of agencies collaborated to design a single SES performance appraisal system applicable to all organizations across the entire Federal Government and to all SES members.  The basic SES appraisal system promotes consistency, clarity, equity, and transferability of performance processes, standards, feedback and ratings throughout Government.  Additionally, the implementation of a basic SES appraisal system will enable a streamlined and more efficient process for SES performance appraisal system approval and certification by OPM.
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  • The scoring ranges are an integral part of the basic SES appraisal system description design and will provide greater consistency and uniformity across Government.  Therefore, the ranges (Level 5 = 500 – 475, Level 4 = 474-400, Level 3 = 399 – 300, Level 2 = 299 – 200) will be standard across the Federal Government for agencies adopting the basic system description.
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  • Agencies will continue to apply their existing pay and awards policies to determine how executive annual summary ratings (and scores) translate into performance-based pay and awards.  The existing principles driving effective executive performance i.e., emphasizing excellence in performance – will continue under the basic system description.
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  • The basic SES performance appraisal system description is adaptable to automation.  Its requirements can be loaded into existing tools, or existing tools can be modified to support the basic system description’s requirements.  Additionally, the performance plan template is available electronically for agency use.
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  • Implementation of the new basic system template does not involve a fixed charge; however, agencies will need to engage in a number of important activities to ensure successful implementation (e.g., marketing, communication and engagement targeting SES members, and required training).  To assist with these efforts, adaptable communication and training tools are being developed for Governmentwide use.  Additionally, an Implementation timeline is being developed to support agency planning for transition to the basic system description.
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  • Yes, a Governmentwide working group will identify training requirements for implementation of this basic SES appraisal system description.  The goal is to ensure agency executives and executive resources staff are trained on the use and implementation of the basic system description before full-scale implementation.  OPM will provide several workshops this spring to support agencies’ transitions to the basic system description.
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  • Agencies must request approval from OPM in order to use additional statistically-validated competencies in their appraisal system.  OPM has approved the use of additional competencies for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.
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  • Each performance element has a minimum required percentage weight, all adding up to a total weight of 100%.  The minimum weight assigned to the “Results-Driven” performance element is 20%.  The minimum weight for each of the other four performance elements is 5%, with no single performance element weighing more than the “Results-Driven” performance element.
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  • Agencies will implement the basic performance appraisal system description as certifications for their current SES performance management systems naturally expire – or sooner, if an agency prefers.  Executives should contact the executive resources office at their agencies for additional information.
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  • This system aims to balance the results-focused performance element, which remains a critical part of a well-rounded performance appraisal plan, with the other leadership responsibilities of Federal executives.  Agencies now have the flexibility to more fully reflect key priorities for their own executives within the basic SES performance appraisal system description and performance plan template by carefully selecting the applicable weights for each performance element.
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  • Yes, the basic SES performance appraisal system description and performance plan template require that the performance requirements within the “Results Driven” performance element be strategically aligned.  Agencies have the flexibility to require such alignment within the remaining performance elements.
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  • Yes, by law (5 U.S.C 4312) agencies with SES members (i.e. subject to 5 U.S.C chapter 43 and 5 CFR 430) must have their SES performance management systems approved by OPM.  Additionally, by law (5 U.S.C. 5307(d)) and regulation (5 CFR 430 subpart D) agencies must have their SES performance management systems certified by OPM, with concurrence by OMB, to set SES member basic pay at a higher rate (i.e. up to the rate for level II of the Executive Schedule) and use a higher aggregate limit (i.e. up to the Vice President’s salary).  Both processes will be streamlined when using the basic system description.
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